By Chris Barge
Rocky Mountain News
March 31, 2006
Sally Moon had to cool off for the better part of this week before she
could see straight enough to write a complaint about a security
agent's treatment of her elderly mother at Denver International
At first, she couldn't settle on the right words to use. "Horrific,"
"mind-boggling" and "outrageous" were a few that came to mind.
Anyone could see that Bernice "Bea" Bogart, 83, was a fragile woman,
Moon said. Bogart had breast cancer surgery in 1997, a total hip
replacement after a fall in 1999, a major stroke in 2004 that caused
dementia, and is hard of hearing.
So when Bogart, who was in a wheelchair, was required by airport
security on Saturday to stand against doctor's orders and undergo a
rigorous screening by a testy female screener, Moon got furious.
"I don't know if she thought my mom had a bomb in her Depends or
what," Moon said.
A Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman said Thursday
that a high level of professionalism and courtesy is expected from its
screeners and Moon's complaint is being looked into.
But Moon doubts anyone will be held accountable.
This week, she sat at her computer in Colorado Springs and e-mailed
the TSA's Office of Civil Rights.
"Although I imagine this complaint will go straight to the trash and
the agent responsible will face no consequences and receive no
reprimand, I could not sleep until I at least voiced my outrage," she
Moon said that at about 6 p.m. Saturday, she and her sister were
walking alongside their mother, who was in a wheelchair being pushed
by a Frontier Airlines employee to a special screening area at the
head of DIA's Concourse A.
Just before reaching security, Moon's sister, who did not have gate
clearance, was asked to sit in a chair away from the screening area
while Moon and their mother proceeded.
Bogart was holding an orthopedic card saying that she had a metal
plate in her hip.
Having been assured that Frontier and the TSA staff would not require
Bogart to leave her wheelchair, Moon turned her back to put her
mother's bags through the X-ray screener.
Moon said she was horrified when she turned around moments later to
discover that her mother had been selected for additional screening
and was out of her wheelchair and hobbling through a large glass-
"There were no grab bars," Moon said. "What I could see really was her
fingers trying to hang onto a little ledge."
Fearing another hip-shattering fall, Moon instinctively reached out
for her mother.
"Don't touch her!" Moon says the screener barked.
As the elderly woman shuffled along, Moon said she continued to tell
the screener that her mother was not to stand without her four-
"You'd better change your attitude," Moon recalls the screener saying.
"Or do you want me to make it so you don't fly today?"
The screener allowed Bogart to sit down for a moment and then
instructed her to stand up and lift her arms, Moon said. Bogart could
barely raise her arms due to the breast cancer surgery and so the
screener lifted them higher herself, Moon said.
Infuriated, Moon protested and said she was told to sit across the
room "or else."
"I know she prolonged her search because she was mad at me," Moon
Bogart had been nervous about flying alone for the first time since
her husband's death last year. She sat back down in the wheelchair
after the screening in shocked silence, her daughter said.
Two hours later, Bogart was in the air, en route to Nashville, Tenn.,
to visit her youngest daughter for a month. Moon marched back to
security to give management a piece of her mind.
She demanded the name of the young screener in her mid-to-late 20s
with darkish hair pulled back in a bun.
A TSA manager refused to give her the screener's name, Moon said, and
suggested she file a general complaint.
Several days later, Moon did just that.
"If you've read this far, I'm surprised," she wrote in closing. "But
if you have, you can now toss this letter, send me one of those form
letters indicating you take these kinds of complaints 'very seriously'
and are going to investigate the matter, blah blah blah, and get back
to more important activities."
Moon can expect a response from the TSA's Office of Civil Rights,
Denver TSA spokeswoman Carrie Harmon said.
"When we receive complaints, we take them very seriously, we
investigate them and we address any personnel issues as appropriate,"
Reached at her youngest daughter's home in Nashville on Thursday,
Bogart said she didn't want to get anyone in trouble and emphasized
"they were all kind except for that one girl. I thought she was a
"I thought it was a little much," she added. "She wouldn't let my
daughter help me. And I have a hard time standing very long at a time
DIA spokesman Chuck Cannon expressed surprise at Bogart's tale, but
said ultimately the airport has no authority to regulate the TSA,
which is a federal agency.
"I honestly don't know why they would have made a woman in that
condition get up and walk through secondary screening," he said. "I'm
sure it's all a misunderstanding, but we hate for those things to
happen and we wish they wouldn't happen."
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